My One Concern about the T4G Statement by Pastor John Samson
I'm excited about the Together for the Gospel Conference's recent statement release. It will act as a dividing line of sorts, showing who is able to sign it and who is not, which will expose whether or not a person, ministry or church is concerned for the biblical Gospel in our day. That to me is a very good thing. We need to know who is with us as we stand together for and in the Gospel.
As Jason Robertson rightly points out in his blog, "The purpose of this document is defined in two sentences found in its introduction paragraphs: We are also brothers united in deep concern for the church and the Gospel. This concern is specically addressed to certain trends within the church today. Thus, it is clear that this document is not a doctrinal statement. There is no need for a new doctrinal statement or creed or confession in our generation. But having a list of specific affirmations and denials "concerning certain trends in within the church today" is very helpful."
I think the statement is very needed and have no hesitation signing my name to it. I do have one concern though. There was one sentence in the statement that bothered me... only one... but it was this one:
We further deny that any teaching that offers health and wealth as God's assured promises in this life can be considered a true gospel.
Why did it disappoint me?? Because the sentence, as it stands is far too vague. I know what the writers were aiming their guns at - the errors of the word of faith movement (and rightly so) - but as I see it, the statement here is simply not clear enough. As it stands, it has the potential of causing anyone who believes in Jevovah Rapha (Exodus 15:26 - the Lord our Healer) and Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14 - the Lord our Provider), and prays for healing and provision with any kind of expectation in this life, to live in fear that they are holding to a false gospel? That, to me, would be a very sad thing indeed.
If someone receives Divine healing, what is the result? I'd say greater health (for the glory of God). Likewise, if someone receives Divine provision, what is the result? I'd say, greater wealth (again for God's glory). Wealth of course is a relative term. But certainly a man without a blanket, who then gains a blanket, is wealthier as a result. To just make a general statement concerning "health" and "wealth" then not only hits out at the extreme, but makes a direct hit on what I believe to be a very legitimate concept - the willingness of God to meet the needs of people. There will be no need to pray for healing or provision in heaven. There will be no sickness, and there will be no needs, as we walk the heavenly streets of gold. We'll not witness even one Divine healing service there, and there will be no need for miracles. We'll not see a blind eye opened, a deaf person healed, or even someone receive miracle provision to be able to pay their rent. Heaven knows of no need. Thank the Lord!
Of course, the statement is not an infallible one. No one has claimed that it is. I believe it is a very biblical, insightful and needed statement. However (I am speaking only for myself here and not for the other contributors), I feel more time should have been given to make sure the wording of this particular sentence meant that the guns were pointed and fired at the extremes of the faith movement (which is obviously what was intended), without just generalising the issue and making people reticent to talk about believing the many promises of God in the Bible that covers physical and material provision. As I am sure we would all affirm, there aren't just one or two scriptures in this regard... the Bible is full of them.
I would still sign the document because I understand what was meant by the words that were used.. but I believe that the wording needs much more refinement to be helpful to everyone. We need to allow for the thorough exposition of all of God's word, including the parts which show God's willingness to meet human needs in this life, and I feel this sentence encroaches on this, at least as far as the written words communicate. It would be very sad if we as Christians, in light of the new T4G statement, now felt reticent to reach out to hurting people to pray for their physical or financial needs because we thought it might be a betrayal of the Gospel. For what its worth, this is my one concern.